Women’s Giving Circles In the News

The Philadelphia Inquirer just published an excellent in-depth piece on giving circles, and it prompted me to do a scan of the women’s giving circle activity out there.

As the Inquirer article explains, more giving in the circle form is happening now than ever, and much of it is being driven by women.

My favorite line from the Philly Inquirer piece is from Paula Liang:

“The collective giving movement has grown slowly but steadily over 25 years,” says Paula Liang, chair of Catalist, a national network of 75 women’s giving circles that represent 20,000 donors, “and now has reached what lots of us believe is a tipping point.”

Orchid Giving Circle, a Texas Women’s Foundation group, recently granted $219,500 to 14 community organizations in Texas. (Photo Credit: Orchid Giving Circle)

As the article reminds us, giving circles have quadrupled over the last decade, and the majority of the activity in the movement is women-led. Much of it is also focused on giving to women and girls, such as Project W, the giving circle featured in the Philly Inquirer article.

Below is a round-up of some of the biggest recent happenings in the women’s giving circle universe.

Texas Women’s Foundation Orchid Giving Circle: Founded in 2015, Orchid Giving Circle (housed by the Texas Women’s Foundation) recently granted $219,500 to 14 organizations in North Texas, particularly focused on the Asian community there. Dallas Innovates recently covered the story of this amazing giving circle here.

Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation: Baltimore has a uniquely powerful women’s giving circle in the Jewish community. This year, the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation gave out over $150,000 to organizations in the community doing work focused on women and girls. See list of grantees here, and news about the giving circle’s current Chair here.

I Be Black Girl Giving Circle Recognized by Facebook: Some of you may remember the Op-Ed piece we ran here at PW featuring I Be Black Girl. After raising over $50,000 with the I Be Black Girl Giving Circle, the group was chosen by Facebook (one of 8 organizations) to come to their headquarters and meet with other groups and Facebook leaders, including Sheryl Sandberg, to discuss effective use of social media. More about this here.

Mankato Women’s Giving Circle Exceeds Expectations: This newly formed women’s giving circle in Mankato, Minnesota, quickly exceeded its goal of rounding up 100 members. It is now at 142 members and will be making its third round of quarterly grants soon. Read more about this group here.

Tendaji Giving Circle in Kalamazoo Grows: A new giving circle for African-American women in Kalamazoo recently granted $27,000 to community groups. More about this group including an audio interview here.

Impact San Antonio: One of the largest women’s giving circles in the country is Impact San Antonio, which has granted more than $3.2 million since 2004. While this women’s giving circle has broader focus areas for its giving, it’s a strong indicator of how powerful women can be when they come together to fund an issue. In 2019, Impact San Antonio awarded five $100,000 grants and expanded its membership to 575. More about this giving circle here.

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Kiersten Marek

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work in Cranston, Rhode Island, and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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